Shockingly, I never got around to watching this film until this week. It was released 2 years before I was born, rated X, so the first 15 years of my life, I just wasn’t likely to see it. I’ve known about it since the 80’s or 90’s, friends mentioned it, and of course I’d seen That Suit. But given the crowd I ran with from age 15 on, when I started riding my scooter, you’d think it would’ve been playing at some art house or something. But nope. I saw Born Losers, which was my favorite 60’s era “Bikesploitation” flick. Until now. And not just for the flawless Lanvin custom leather suit. I’m already plotting how to make a replica with D30 armor inside instead of fur.
What really appealed to me was her pure teenage bliss. Sure, she was blathering on about her lover that she was so into, but all this was done while she was riding. It was clear she was experiencing real freedom for the first time in her life. It’s natural that she was in love with the man who gave her that ticket to freedom. I think it’s iconic of the whole 60’s free love thing because in those days yeah, young ladies were expected to marry and procreate. To a great extent we still are, but at least in some parts of the world women can choose another path without being social outcasts. I still don’t understand why she even married Raymond, clearly her father was in no hurry to see that happen. So here’s a young woman discovering free love through the massive feeling of freedom that comes from motorcycling.
My best friend Cheri and I used to sneak out at night and ride my Vespa P200E helmetless, in summer clothes, 20 miles to the city (San Francisco). On school nights, no less. I’d roll the scooter halfway down the block, then kick start it, ride over to Cheri’s, pick her up a block from her house, and we’d ride. And ride. And ride. Just for the sake of being FREE! We’d go up to the city, cruise around and check stuff out, grabbing a snack at some diner in Tenderloin Heights. One night we got pulled over on the 101 about 1/2 a mile from our exit. The cop said he wouldn’t take us in if we let him drive us home. I was violating all three permit restrictions- riding at night, on the freeway, with a passenger. We were probably even out after curfew. Whatever. My parents wanted to know why I’d come home in a cop car, but there were no serious repercussions. The next morning I walked down to get my scooter. Everyone’s first motorized vehicle feels like the source of all freedom, especially if you get to have one while still a teenager living at home.
I’ve been off the R1 for a couple weeks or so now, only wanting to ride the Zero or the bicycle. So when I got on the R1 and felt the distinctive rumble of that crossplane crankshaft beneath me, I remembered why I also love my gas bikes. It’s that feeling that a living, breathing creature (dragon) is barely being tamed by me, and could buck and throw me if I make the slightest error. And I knew I could never be faithful to just one motorcycle. While the R1 (well, 3 of them back to back) served me well as my only bike for 11 years, he had his shortcomings. Yes, that’s what relationships are about- finding the one who’s mostly perfect and accepting the bits that aren’t. But if you can have two, then you never have to settle. You just have more work, maintaining two motorcycles.
And really, they sleep together, so don’t try to hide them from each other. Let them know. Tell them why you love them. Tonight I went a bit too far too fast on the Zero, so I knew I wouldn’t have enough juice to do my other errands. So I went home, plugged him in, and switched to the R1. A true luxury I’m very grateful to have. When I start out on the R1 these days it’s an adjustment, getting used to the weight and power. I have to take a moment and hold him lovingly, and tell him how much I love his power before we head out. Kind of like Rossi does before each race, except I do this while sitting on the bike. Motorcycles demand respect from their riders, and starting with a moment of tribute is a good way to acknowledge this.